The city of Ioannina in northwestern Greece is vying for the title of European Cultural Capital 2021, the municipal authority announced on Wednesday, saying it would submit its bid by October 23 under the title “Ioannina-Epirus: Cultural Capital of Europe 2021”.
“After careful consideration and with full awareness of the responsibilities and difficulties of the task, we have decided to say ‘yes’ to the Cultural Capital challenge,” Ioannina Mayor Thomas Begas told a city council meeting ahead of the decision, inviting all Epirots to join in the common goal.
The mayor referred to Ioannina’s religious and cultural diversity, its history and the central role of its teachers in the Greek Enlightenment, its natural wealth and the region’s promising young artists as winning factors.
Confident that Ioannina can live up to the challenge, Mr Begas added that being awarded the cultural capital title will not only benefit the city but the entire region as activities and events will be taking place across Epirus.
“The reputation we will gain and the promotional boost of our city through its culture will be to our benefit,” he added.
Every year, three European cities are designated European Cultural Capital for a four-month term. For the year 2021, cities in Greece and Romania are vying for the title. The third participating country is yet to be announced.
The city named will also receive the Melina Mercouri prize of 1.5 million euros on the condition that it has implemented all of the criteria presented in its application.
Conceived in 1983 by then Greek Culture minister Melina Mercouri and established in 1985 with Mrs. Mercouri’s French counterpart Jack Lang, European Cultural Capital aims to safeguard and promote the cultural wealth and diversity of European cities as well as bring Europeans closer together. It also provides cities with a unique opportunity through the preparation procedure to enhance their image and promote an international profile as well as draw in considerable economic, social and cultural benefits.
The final decision will be announced in 2016.